Women’s cycling banned in Iranian city as “Sinful Act”
The prosecutor of Isfahan in Iran announced on May 14, 2019, that women’s cycling banned in the Iranian city by pronouncing it “a prohibited act” which will entail punishment based on the “Islamic Penal Code.”
In comments carried by state-run IRNA news agencies, Isfahan’s Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor said on Tuesday that women’s cycling was “haram” or forbidden.
“According to the law, women’s cycling in public areas is haram. The police have been ordered to initially give women bikers notices and take their IDs. Otherwise their bikes will be confiscated”, Ali Isfahani said.
“For a long time, Friday prayer leaders and families of martyrs complained about women riding bicycles in public areas and there were some cases of assault and harassment against these women,” he added.
“In response, the police have been instructed to give a polite warning if they see a woman riding a bicycle in the city for the first time and take her identification document, and if she doesn’t have one, they should impound the bicycle,” he said.
Isfahani continued: “First-time offenders will have to go to the security police and sign a pledge. They will not be punished and their personal documents and bicycles will be returned. If they repeat this sinful act two or three times, they will be punished in accordance with the Islamic Penal Code.”
No Iranian law explicitly bans women bicyclists but the officials have always condemned women’s engagement in public exercise activities that are freely enjoyed by men, often describing them as “immoral.”
In September 2016, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa declaring that women are forbidden to ride bicycles in public.
In response to a religious inquiry, Khamenei also said it is prohibited for women to ride bicycles in the presence of strangers and those who are not their immediate family.
He said: “Riding bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity, and it must be abandoned.”
During a sermon on April 12, Isfahan’s temporary head of Friday prayers, Abolhassan Mahdavi, severely attacked Isfahan city officials and the endorsement of women’s cycling and demanded that officials deal with the issue.
In a September 2018 sermon, Isfahan Friday Prayer Leader Yousef Tabatabaeinejad said he had been complaining about women bicyclists for a decade because “most religious scholars believe it’s not proper.”
“According to Islamic traditions, sinful glances [at female bicyclists] are the devil’s poisonous arrows that will undoubtedly lead to further moral corruption.”